By Tony Hooker
As with most high school students, Ava Vollmer wasn’t entirely sure of her college plans.
It took a friendly nudge from her dad, Rod, to get the ball that would eventually lead to her going to Greenville University to throw the shot put. I recently caught up with the busy VGHS senior to discuss how all of that came to be.
How long have you been throwing the shot?
I started in seventh grade, but I didn’t really get too serious about it until my eighth grade year. I started to really work at it and made state for eighth grade. Then, during my high school freshman year, I started placing at sectional events. Then we had covid for my sophomore and junior years. My senior year, I committed and started working out.
Did you put your other extracurricular activities on the back shelf to focus on shot put?
You didn’t do dance?
Right. I did dance Freshman, sophomore and junior years, but took this year off.
What was it about Greenville that was most appealing?
It was actually the first college I applied to. I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t really know if I wanted to participate in a college sport, and then in January, my dad asked me “What ever happened with that whole track thing?” and I said “whoa, I haven’t talked to the coach in a while, so I texted the coach and it kind of went from there. That’s when I applied for the scholarship, and I ended up getting it.
What is going to be your major?
It’s going to be Biology.
It looks like you might have something in the medical field in your future?
I want to go into Obstetrics and Gynecology.
What are your strengths as a shot putter?
I’m pretty quick. I can run pretty fast for how I’m built, surprisingly. I’m not super big compared to everyone else, so that’s what I’m trying to work on right now, my strength. I think that my best thing is moving my feet fast and having a good rotation.
Her coach, Mary McGarigle, pointed in a different direction when asked about her strengths as a shot putter. “Her greatest strength as a thrower is that she is determined and wants to get better,” McGarigle stated.
Other than building strength, what other areas are you working on to improve?
I need to build up some muscle! <smiles> My throwing coach at Greenville is an All-American, and he’s sending me workouts.
Do you feel pretty confident in your form?
I’m not real confident in my form, really. Right now, I’m gliding, and my coach told me that once I get to college I’ll be spinning, so it’s going to be a completely different thing. I’ve spun a little bit, and I throw the same as I throw with a glide, so that makes me feel good that I’ll be able to improve from there, whereas with a glide, I’m kind of at a standstill.
Where are you at as far as your season goes?
Our next meet is conference, and then after that it’s sectionals.
How are you feeling about those meets?
I’m kind of at a standstill, right now. I’m not throwing as far as I had been, but I think that’s because I’m transitioning from a glide to a spin, so I’m losing all my progress. I placed second at our invite two weeks ago, out of thirty girls. I’m averaging around 30 feet, right now, but my sophomore year I was at like 33.
Does having another good thrower like Carly Eads push you?
She’s more of a discus thrower, but it’s nice to see her spin for discus. I’m excited to see where she’s going to go. We stick together when we throw, because the top two throwers go to meets.
Do you think you have a chance at making state?
This year? No, I don’t think I’m there right now. I lost a lot of weight from sophomore year to now, and I think that definitely has something to do with it, because with more body mass, you’re going to be stronger, but I wasn’t as quick so I’m just trying to work back up to that.
Regardless of her current situation regarding transitioning her throwing styles, Coach McGarigle is confident that her future is bright. “ I think Ava will adjust just fine to college sports. She is smart, talented, determined, level headed and dedicated to everything that she does,” McGarigle stated.
It’s obvious that traits like that will take her far, both at the toe board and in life.